2-day Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking is seen as the approach to handling the complexity and risks associated with business problems and opportunities in the modern world. The adoption of Systems Thinking provides a very powerful framework for understanding complex situations and issues; leading ultimately to their resolution. Its applicability is universal, from designing a new product or service through to root cause analysis of problems, managing transformation and change and the exploration and evolution of future strategies.

Applying Systems Thinking, however, requires not only skills and knowledge but also a profound understanding of the underlying systems principles. Systems Thinking is as much about mind-set as is it is about process and tools. Education and training are therefore critical to the development of an organizational capability in Systems Thinking. This course aims to educate and train participants in the practical application of Systems Thinking. It presents a methodology for Systems Thinking together with simple tools to enable us to "Systems Think".

Who Should Attend?

This course applies to anybody. It is a universal skill for the 21st century.

Benefits to the Individual and Business

During an intensive two days of teaching and practical ‘hands on’ exercises, participants will be challenged to develop the skills and mind-set that can be applied to any situation irrespective of context.

At the end of the course participants will: 

  • have an understanding of the concepts and principles of Systems Thinking and how it can be applied through the appropriate blend of people, process and tools 
  • be able to think about problems and opportunities in a new and exciting way 
  • be provided with a common language and approach to addressing complexity 
  • be able to use a number of systems tools in a systematic manner to analyse complex situations and address problems and opportunities in a logical evidence-based way.

Learning Approach

The learning approach is based on the Kolb learning cycle with a significant proportion of the course set aside for exercises to reinforce the learning. Indeed, the course employs a number of small group exercises involving a case study to provide a practical focus for the course which enables the delegates to practise the methodology and tools.

Course Delivery

The course has been designed for minimum numbers of 8 and maximum of 16 and can be delivered on site or at a suitable venue.

Course Structure

Day 1  Day 2  

Introduction and Delegate expectations

Systems, Systems Thinking and Systems Approaches

  • Why Systems Thinking?

Emergence – desirable and undesirable

What is a system?

Purpose and Context

System Boundary

Subsystems and super-systems

Events, patterns and behaviour

  • Balancing feedback
  • Reinforcing feedback
  • System stability
  • System Stock and Flows

Doing Systems Thinking            

  • Divergent and Convergent Thinking
  • Spray Diagram
  • Multiple Cause Diagram/Causal Loop Diagram

Systems Thinking in Practice

  • Hard and Soft Systems Methodologies
  • Unified Systems Methodology
  • Systems Thinking Tools

The Systems Thinking Tool Box

Tools for understanding purpose 

  • 18 Word Statement
  • Tree Diagram

Review of Day 1

Tools for understanding purpose continued

  • Quad of Aims

Tools for understanding Context

  • Causal Loop Diagram

Tools for understanding what’s inside and what’s outside

Systems Map

  • Input-Output Analysis

Tools for Understanding Systems Structure

  • Influence Diagram
  • N2 Analysis
  • Matrix Diagram

Tools for understanding System Behaviour

  • Sequence Diagram

Tools for change

  • Morphological Analysis
  • Paired comparison
  • Decision matrix

Using Systems Thinking

  • Fixing Broken Systems     
  • Designing Systems  

Course Costs

The cost of delivering the 2-day course, excluding delivery tutor accommodation and expenses, but including all courseware is £3,000. VAT will apply at the prevailing rate.

The course can be tailored to suit individual customer’s operations.

More Information and Contact Details

For more information about the 2-day Systems Thinking Course or any of our other Systems Thinking course please contact Dr Stuart Burge on +44 (0) 7803 131614 or sburge@burgehugheswalsh.co.uk.

A printable version of this information can be downloaded here